Biden Delivers

10.12.12

Biden vs. Ryan Vice-Presidential Debate Fact-Check: Who Lied?

Biden exaggerated a few of Romney’s statements and Ryan got some unemployment numbers wrong. The Daily Beast turns to the Internet’s most reliable fact-checkers for the vice-presidential candidates’ biggest slip-ups.

Biden: Mitt Romney called President Obama’s promise to end the Iraq war a “tragic mistake.”  

This is an old one for Politifact, as President Obama has said it before. They point out, yet again, that while Romney did use the word “tragic,” he was talking about the pace of the 2011 drawdown of troops from Iraq, not the plan to end the war in general, making Biden’s statement only half true.  

Ryan: “You know what the unemployment rate in Scranton is today? It’s 10 percent. You know what it was the day you guys came in? 8.5 percent. That’s how it’s going all around America.”  

ABC’s Jon Karl is a stickler for the numbers. Ryan was close on the unemployment rate of Scranton, Penn.: it’s 9.6 percent, not 10, exactly, and when Obama and Biden took office it was actually 8.4 percent, not 8.5. More important, though, Scranton’s growing unemployment rate is not representative of the rest of the country, where unemployment has dropped from a high of 10 percent in October 2009 to 7.8 percent in September, and was up a little, to 8.1 percent, prior to that.  

Biden: “With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear: No religious institution, Catholic or otherwise—including Catholic Social Services, Georgetown Hospital, Mercy, any hospital—none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact.” 

This is all true, as of now, but when Biden declares that, “This is a fact,” he puts himself in the position to be challenged. As The Washington Post’s Josh Hicks notes, Biden was, in fact, the one who negotiated the exemption for religious institutions for the Obamacare rule on employer-provided contraception, but not all church organizations have accepted the changes to the mandate, because they fear they will still end up paying for contraception if their insurance costs go up as a result of the mandate—a fear that is furthered by the Obama administration’s failure to create an accommodation for religious organizations that self-insure seven months after promising it would.  

Ryan: Obama will reduce our Navy to the smallest it has been since before World War I.

Politifact called this absurd, giving it a score of “pants on fire.” The basis for the statement—which Romney himself used in January—is the number of ships in the Navy.  In 1916, the Navy had 245 ships; as of 2011, the number was 285. Under George W. Bush, the numbers were even lower (down to 278 at one point).

Biden: Romney “said, let [the auto industry] go bankrupt, period.”

Yes, we all know Romney wrote a New York Times op-ed that was headlined “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” He’ll never live it down. But Politifact isn’t convinced by the suggestion that Romney had no interest in saving the auto industry. First, they’ve previously pointed out that Romney himself did not come up with that immortal headline or use those words anywhere in the article or in subsequent interviews. Furthermore, the “managed bankruptcy” he proposed for Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler instead of a bailout, was intended to force car companies to lower their labor costs and better their products so that they could save themselves—not fail.

Ryan: “And with respect to abortion, the Democratic Party used to say they should be safe, legal, and rare, now they support it without restriction and with taxpayer funding. Taxpayer funding in Obamacare, taxpayer funding with foreign aid. The vice president himself went to China and said he sympathized with, and would not second-guess, their one-child policy of forced abortions and sterilizations. That to me is pretty extreme.” 

Ryan’s claim that the new federal health-care law will use taxpayer funds to pay for abortions is easily disputed. In a July statement, the Department of Health and Human Services confirms that the only abortions covered will be those in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s life.  
 
Biden: “We weren’t told they wanted more security [in Benghazi]. We did not know.”

Ryan immediately disputed Biden’s claim that the White House didn’t know more security was needed in Benghazi before the embassy attack. According to testimony given by the Obama administration this week, he was right. A top security official in Libya said he was reprimanded for requesting more security and admitted that by the time of the attack it was “abundantly clear” help was not on its way.